Senators Markey, Schumer, Gillibrand, Warren, and Casey Reintroduce Legislation to Protect Critical First Responder Spectrum
Washington (October 31, 2019) – Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and Bob Casey (D-Penn.) today reintroduced the Don’t Break Up the T-Band Act, legislation that would preserve emergency personnel’s access to T-band spectrum (470–512 MHz). The bill repeals a provision of the 2012 Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act, which directed the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to auction off this band of spectrum by 2021. Police and fire fighters in highly-populated metropolitan areas in Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, Washington, D.C., and elsewhere use critical T-Band spectrum for emergency public safety communication. Agencies across the country have invested millions of local, state, and federal dollars in the T-Band networks, which offer the reliable coverage and regional interoperability that first responders require for mission critical voice communications. Congressman Eliott Engel (NY-16) has introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives.
A recent study by the United States Government Accountability Office noted that the cost of relocating T-Band users to other bands of spectrum would cost between $5 and $6 billion, and for many T-Band users, alternative bands of spectrum are limited or “nonexistent.”
“In Massachusetts and across the country, courageous men and women in our police and fire departments put their lives on the line to protect our health and safety every day,” said Senator Markey. “It is essential that these first responders have the tools they need to do their jobs and serve the public. I’ve introduced legislation to preserve law-enforcement, EMS personnel, fire fighters and security officials’ access to the T-Band spectrum they use to communicate with each other when lives are on the line. I thank Leader Schumer, and Senators Gillibrand, Warren, and Casey for partnering with me on this important issue.”
“New Yorkers know from 9/11 that first responders need a communication system that works when seconds count,” said Leader Schumer. “Our firefighters and first responders need reliable communications so they can talk to each other and better respond to emergencies. This T-Band spectrum is priceless to Americans all across the country because it helps saves lives and I pledge to keep this critical communication frequency intact until a suitable alternative is developed.”
“Congress has a responsibility to keep our first responders safe while they risk their lives to protect our communities,” said Senator Gillibrand. “We can help do this by making sure our fire, police, and EMT workers have access to the T-Band spectrum, so they can communicate clearly and effectively with their teams and don’t have to worry about their communication systems failing in dangerous conditions. I urge my colleagues to support this legislation to help ensure that our first responders have the resources they need.”
“We rely on our first responders in Massachusetts and across the country in emergency situations, and it’s up to us to give them the tools they need to do their job,” said Senator Warren.“This bill allows our first responders to continue using the T-Band spectrum to communicate during emergencies, and to continue their courageous work efficiently and effectively.”
“Every day, our first responders respond to dangerous situations that few of us can comprehend. These brave men and women run towards the danger rather than away from it,” said Senator Casey. “We must ensure that our fire, police and EMT workers have access to the T-Band spectrum to be able to effectively communicate with one another to keep the public and themselves safe. I’m proud to join my colleagues in supporting our brave first responders throughout Pennsylvania and the rest of the country.”
A copy of the legislation can be found HERE.